The Yomiuri ShimbunWill North Korea work on denuclearization in all seriousness and take steps toward concrete action? It is hard to say that the concerns harbored by related countries have been dispelled.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited North Korea and held talks with Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea. The biggest issue is concrete steps toward “complete denuclearization” of North Korea, as was agreed during the U.S.-North Korea summit in mid-June.
The U.S. side stressed that progress was made during the talks, saying both sides agreed on the establishment of a working group involving both countries to address such tasks as the verification of denuclearization.
Yet it is unsatisfactory that there have been no visible results regarding a road map that incorporates procedures and timelines for dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons, disposing of its nuclear material and so forth.
North Korea’s Foreign Ministry made self-centered claims in its statement, saying that the U.S. side only made demands for denuclearization in a unilateral and high-handed manner.
It can be said that the problems stemming from the fact that the summit fell short of working out the substance of “denuclearization” still remain.
The joint statement issued after the summit stated clearly that the two countries had committed to “hold follow-on negotiations at the earliest possible date,” but it took more than three weeks to realize the latest talks. Pompeo at one time even declared that he would not establish a timeline for negotiations with North Korea.
Be on alert for empty show
It seems that the United States has been taken in by North Korea’s delaying tactics, which Pyongyang has also fully utilized during past denuclearization talks.
North Korea has done nothing more than blow up a nuclear test site in May, while taking no measures toward denuclearization. It has also been pointed out that North Korea, while concealing the actual state of its nuclear development, has been increasing its production of highly enriched uranium.
It is essential that first of all, North Korea declare the entire state of its nuclear program and indicate a process toward denuclearization.
During U.S.-North Korea negotiations, such issues were also left pending as the repatriation of the remains of American soldiers missing in action during the Korean War and the destruction of North Korea’s missile engine testing facility.
It is necessary to take precautions against North Korea making a pointed display of its “concessions” on these issues so as to receive “compensation,” while putting denuclearization on the back burner.
Kim Jong Un, the chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, has actively made inspection visits to factories and farms near his country’s border with China. Without doubt, North Korea intends to gain assistance from China and rebuild its economy, on the tailwind of eased tensions with the United States.
South Korea has also moved to raise issues related not only to sports and humanitarian areas, but also to large-scale economic cooperation, including connecting railways, during working-level talks with North Korea.
It is cause for concern that there have been moves to ease the international community’s punitive pressure on North Korea, before progress is made toward North Korea’s denuclearization.
Pompeo will hold talks with the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea in Tokyo, explaining the results of his talks with the North Korean side. The three countries should reconfirm their cooperation and compare and adjust their strategies.